Variational Quantum Networking: An Engineering Paradigm for the Quantum Internet
Quantum networks are essential for scaling and distributing quantum technologies in sensing, computing, and communications. However, noise leads to significant challenges in characterizing networked quantum systems, designing their applications, and automating their functionality. Indeed, we should expect classical tools to fail when scaling to quantum networks. As a solution, I propose variational quantum networking, a hybrid quantum-classical framework for simulating, optimizing, and automating quantum networks. In this framework, variational quantum optimization methods are applied on quantum computing or networking hardware to train the quantum system to perform a desired networking task. This framework is both declarative and hardware agnostic, meaning that it can be applied using minimal assumptions about a given quantum system. Several applications are explored such as setting up teleportation or key distribution protocols in noisy quantum systems. Furthermore, with the help of Colin Lualdi, we demonstrate a proof of concept of these techniques in the Kwiat Lab. Finally, the promise of advantage and potential drawbacks of variational quantum networking is discussed.